Are premium automotive products worth the extra cost?

Courtesy of ARA Content

When does it make sense to upgrade to a premium automotive product? That’s a question that stumps a lot of people when confronted with the wide ranges of prices for seemingly comparable products.

“Small steps that motorists take today can go a long way toward improving the safety and reliability of their vehicles,” the Car Care Council says. Here are a few tips on common automotive product categories to help you make informed decisions.

Gasoline: Engines are designed to use a particular grade/octane of gasoline. Some consumers purchase a higher octane gasoline thinking that it’s better for the car. However, there is no substantial benefit in using a higher octane than recommended by the manufacturer. In fact, if you paid 40 cents a gallon extra to purchase super premium gas as opposed to regular, that would cost you an additional $320 a year (assuming 12,000 miles driven and 15 mpg).

The bottom line: Don’t use a higher octane rating than recommended by the car’s manufacturer.

Motor oil: There have been substantial improvements in lubrication technology over the past few years. The longer oil life of high-performance synthetic motor oil allows for extended oil drains, which save time and money, and reduce the impact on the environment.

Additionally, some high-performance synthetic oils such as Royal Purple have been reported to improve mileage as much as 3 percent or more. Three percent may not seem significant, but it can result in hundreds of dollars in savings throughout the year.

The bottom line: Upgrade to a high-performance synthetic motor oil for extended oil drains and improved fuel economy.

Wiper blades: The climate where you live is the critical factor in determining the value of upgrading to a premium wiper. There is a noticeable performance difference in low-cost wiper blades versus those specifically designed for rainy and snowy climates. Premium wiper blades are significantly sturdier and more durable than low-priced blades.

The bottom line: Rainy and snowy climates justify spending a few dollars more for premium wiper blades.

Oil filters: Inexpensive filters are typically made with the 3,000-mile interval in mind. These filters often use low-quality paper media for filtration, and they deteriorate rapidly after 3,000 miles. The new generation of high-performance premium oil filters from manufacturers such as K&N, Royal Purple and others allow for extended oil drain intervals. For example, Royal Purple uses a proprietary long-life, micro-glass media that provides protection for 12,000 miles. It also provides an increased level of protection because of the density of the filtration. You can find out more at

The bottom line: Upgrade to a premium oil filter if you plan to extend oil drain intervals or if you operate your vehicle in extreme conditions such as dusty environments or cold weather climates.

From the March 24-30, 2010 issue

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